Shortly after dinner the night before, I went downstairs to my cabin and promptly passed out. Now of course, what I had planned to do was a whole other story…but in any case, I woke up to the sound of the engine being turned on at about 5:30am as our ship said goodbye to Scenery Cove and headed towards our morning anchorage.
Today’s stop? Somewhere just outside the LeConte glacier, the exact distance TBD based on how dicey things looked when the ship got close.
Normally our ship moves while we’re ashore or during the afternoon when we’re out and about, so it was really the first time I got to hear the sounds of all the machinery ‘waking up’ and revving into gear. On the bottom level where my room was, I felt like I was right there in the engine room. I sat and listened to every sound, every creak and whirr for some 30 minutes before blissfully falling back asleep knowing that I didn’t have to get up yet. :)
LeConte Bay is home to the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. A tidewater glacier is one that touches the water, and as a result, actively calves icebergs constantly. The first hints of our target came in the form of small floating dots of ice that gradually became larger and more plentiful.
Finally at about 8:40am, the ship putters to its stop. We’re 11 miles away from the head of the glacier, but due to the conditions, this was as close as we were going to get.
9:00am comes around, and an excited gang pile into two skiffs. One manned by Kevin (whose group I was on), the other by Nitakuwa. As our skiff charged towards the icebergs, we all took a moment again to breathe in the brisk morning air, again reminding ourselves how ridiculously lucky we were to be here and enjoying such fine weather.
I gotta say, seeing those iceburgs floating around us was something else. Say “iceberg” and I’m pretty sure you’ve got a pretty good image in your mind of how an iceberg should look. But until you’re faced smack in front of this three dimensional object and you are watching light stream through the varying layers of translucent ice, you don’t appreciate how crazy the scene looks. All morning, we skirted from iceberg to iceberg, driving as close as was safe to gaze right up at the large pieces, peer down at the small onces, and touch the random piece here and there.
Whatever the size, it was such a surreal experience knowing that, at that very moment, what you were seeing is something unique – that any particular iceberg we saw was a mental snapshot stored; a moment captured in time; never again repeated.
Just as we had our iceberg fill, a porpoise leaps out of the water and back in one nice clean arch in front of us.
That afternoon, we stopped over in Ideal Cove, where another shore excursion was offered – this time the Three Lakes Loop trail. I’d planned to kayak, but if you throw more options at me I’m going to try to fit ‘em all in. I opted to do the short 1.5 mile hike, but we all felt so good we decided to extend it to add an extra 3 mile loop. Circling the lakes on a boarded wooden plank path we strolled, taking in yet another type of terrain. This time it was bogs, peat moss and really warm weather -- a very sharp contrast to the morning. At one point we stopped on the path and sat cross legged on the path to stare out at the lake; another point, we all sprawled out on pier for another group nap.
Eventually we finished our loop and headed back to a waiting skiff ready for dinner and the next leg of things.
Group photo credit to Kevin Marin from InnerSea Discoveries
Trio on a plank photo credit to Abi from Inside the Travel Lab